Toyota USA President Hints At HD Tundra’s Future

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In Automotive News, Toyota USA President Yoshi Inaba answered some questions about Toyota, including offering some interesting tidbits about the Tundra. From Automotive News (subs. req’d):

Question: Why is the Tundra having only limited success against Detroit’s full-sized pickups?

Inaba’s Answer: Let’s face it. Tundra competes in a subsegment of full-sized pickups. It does pretty good. The simple situation is with the market collapsing and fuel prices going up, it hinders us from being more aggressive and not reaching the volume where we bounce from there. We are not disappointed. We are not 100% happy, but we are not discouraged.

Here’s what I think these comments mean.

1. Toyota isn’t giving up on the full-size truck segment. While this isn’t really a surprise – Toyota invested in the second generation Tundra with the same number of annual sales they’ve got now – it’s always nice to hear a senior Japanese executive express a commitment to the product.

2. Ford, GM, and Chrysler-Fiat have a cost advantage. To me, Inaba’s comment that “Tundra competes in a subsegment of full-sized pickups” seems like a subtle hint to the fact that all Ford, GM, and Chrysler-Fiat half-ton sales are boosted by low margin fleet business. Ford, GM, and to a lesser degree Chrysler-Fiat all benefit from economies of scale driven by both their fleet business and their heavy-duty truck lines. The F-150 and the SuperDuty, for example, share components and design. Same goes for GM and Dodge – their half-ton and HD trucks share parts.

These lower costs due to shared parts and design with the heavy duty trucks help make Ford, GM, and Chrysler-Fiat trucks more competitive in the fleet business. Because truck fleet sales are driven by the lowest costs, lower production costs help lock-up fleet sales, which in turn increase economies of scale, which further lowers costs, which further boosts fleet sales. Etc. It’s no wonder that a local Ford fleet manager recently bragged to me that he could get the price on a brand new F-150 down to about $18,000…provided I was willing to buy a few dozen.

3. Toyota isn’t investing in an HD truck anytime soon. The line “it hinders us from being more aggressive and not reaching the volume where we bounce from there” seems like a pretty clear indicator that Toyota’s long-stated plan to build a 3/4 ton Tundra is on hold until sales volumes and market share meet original expectations. Put another way, Inaba’s comment is “until we start selling 200k Tundras per year, we’re not going to be attacking the H.D. market.”  This echoes comments I’ve heard from sources.

This last comment is also a bad sign for the future of a diesel Tundra…but I’m not giving up hope.

Anyone else care to analyze these comments?

Filed Under: Tundra News


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  1. Brian J says:

    Glad the Tundra will be sticking around. A little bummed about no HD diesel version in the forseeable future, though.

  2. Dean says:

    I live close to a Toyota Field Engineer, 3 weeks ago he let me in on some interesting news that would disagree with your theories… He said Toyota Engineers plan to release a full line of H.D. pickups by 2014 a 3/4, 1-ton and 1-ton dully. Also already designed/built are two options for diesel engines, a smaller 4.5L and a 8.0L option, so don’t put your head down just yet!! 🙂 Some inspirational news for all Toyota Fans

  3. mk says:

    yep, no 3/4 or 1 ton coming anytime soon at all even a diesel tundra. Diesels and 3/4 and 1 ton go hand in hand, and one without the other will not happen. Yota should concentrate and give us a crew cab with 6 1/2′ bed length and that would put them #1 in sales, at least for me anyways. That would be awesome.

    • Chim says:

      me too need crew cab 6,5ft bed is just what wanted. waited no news of this. now HD F250 is only choose. but used to Toyota.

  4. mk says:

    I just heard from a salesman commenting on another forum that their monthly sales meeting got word from Toyota directly that 2012 is the last year the tundra will be made. I doubt it agree?

  5. Justin says:

    So let me get this right. Per Toyota, the Tundra is floundering because of market collapse and gas prices?

    I’m sorry, that’s all PR rubbish and excuses for the share holders. So far YTD, Ford has sold 264K+ F-series trucks, a 9.9% increase over last year. Heck all the Big 3 are up in their full-size lineup. And the Tundra has sold 39K+ YTD (barely 9K more than the Ranger, a product living on a platform from 1993), a 17.6% decrease from last year. I’m sorry if market collapse and fuel prices were such a huge issue, you wouldn’t see the Big 3 doing so well.

    And for those that just want to talk about “price” on fleet trucks, don’t you usually get a steep discount buying in bulk? Sams Club, Costco, etc. It’s not like Ford is losing money on these fleet trucks. Heck, and most fleet trucks are stripper XL models that Toyota doesn’t have a Tundra competitor.

  6. Jason (Admin) says:

    Dean – Cool tip. I know that the 8L HINO and 4.5L aussie diesel are both available, and from what I’ve been told the 4.5L is all but done in terms of design. However, I’ve also been told by more than a few people that the HD Tundra is at least 4 years away, and even that’s optimistic.

    Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

    mk – No plans to cancel Tundra for the foreseeable future.

    Justin – I didn’t see anyone mention “floundering”, and I’ll respond to your point about Ford/GM/Chrysler-Fiat truck sales growth with a question: Do you know what Ford’s fleet mix is? Or GM’s?

    Don’t you think it’s possible that a lot of that growth is pent-up fleet demand and not actual retail customers?

    Check this out:

    I’m not saying that Ford isn’t doing well (they are), but Toyota’s sales figures don’t include hundreds of thousands of fleet sales…comparing the figures straight up gives a distorted picture of the marketplace.

    BTW, your point about the Ranger sort of proves what I’m saying: Ask any Ford dealer and they’ll tell you that Ford sells at least as many Rangers to fleets as they do to retail customers. Ranger sales growth is largely due to large corporate fleet buyers!

  7. Pascall says:

    I agree, about 4 years ago, back when Toyota was first thinking about engineering a Heavy Duty Tundra I thought that they should use the 8L Hino engine in there Tundra, they could probably max it out to around 350 Hp and 850 Lb-Ft. Along with that they could bore the 5.7 to around 6+ liters to make a more competitive gasoline engine for there HD trucks. They could start it off by offering the 4.2L HD Diesel engine which was used in the Land Cruiser (the engine is called HD) in there half tons. With a decent turbo and some tuning Toyota could most likely boost the torque output of that engine to the 450 Ft-lb range and horsepower around 300, while delivering around 25 MPG.

    Fleet sales aren’t usually included in there overall sales number. You can see that in the half ton market Ford has twice as many truck sales that both GM trucks combined, and about 3 times the Chrysler-Fiat, Toyota Tundra sales (individually, not combined), and about 4 times that of the Nissan Titan. And in the HD market alone the results are similar. I definitely think we need more than 3 competitors in the HD market, (or 4 if you include GMC). In Europe they have countless competitors for there commercial markets which leads to better choice for the customer. Toyota should eventually offer a 4500 and 5500 models for fleet sales, knowing Toyota’s reliability they would have no problem selling.

  8. Jason (Admin) says:

    Pascal – I agree with you on almost all counts but one: Fleet sales are ABSOLUTELY reported in the sales figures. That’s why the F150 is the best-selling vehicle in North America…fleets inflate the figures for all trucks (except Tundra, which doesn’t do much fleet).

  9. Toyota Loyal says:

    I need about five 1 tons for my business…
    Hey Mr. Toyoda…. tell your people to
    “Built It”
    “They will come”!!!

    • Toyota Loyal,

      What’s interesting is that we have always heard that Toyota Japan didn’t think much of the full-size truck. In their view, the Tundra is purely an Toyota America idea.


  10. Gary says:

    Hey Toyota, I currently have 2 Toyota Yaris cars and a GMC 3/4 ton Duramax. I would trade my GMC in a heartbeat for a solid 3/4 ton Toyota.

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